Xander made the emergency calls, getting all the assorted crew chiefs heading to a firm location at once. Then he got up and looked at everyone. "Emergency situation three has happened. Shit is about to hit the fan, but it's all going to impact me getting sleep. I'm sorry in advance if I snarl, beat you, or even just give you hurt looks for being nice. Someone call Gunn and Connor to make sure they can get the machine or whatever to bring Boris back to life." He stomped off, going to get onto his bike and head to the same location with his copy of the will. Most of them made it there before him, but Trisha, who came in wearing a beaded dark gray gown that was fairly skimming and slit up to her thigh on her left side. It wasn't too bad on her but she wasn't the most shapely so it made her look like a teenager at the prom. "Okay," he said, waving for attention. "We've just grown a problem." Everyone stared at him. "I'm Xander." Most of everyone stared at him and a few looked confused. "I did the abuse shelter site." That got a lot of nods and only a few confused looks. He looked at one. "Are you one of our crew chiefs, sir?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"He is, he just got promoted from under Bill," Merle said. "Xander started out as my second, moved to work with Trish, then handled stuff before coming back to work with both of us on our current site." Everyone quit looking so confused. "Problems?"
"Boris just got staked by Faith," he admitted. He held up the will. "We're working on it, there may be a way around it but it'll take a few weeks."
"What about paychecks?" Trisha demanded. "I can't ask my guys to go that long!"
"Chill, Trish," he said calmly. "What I have in my hand is a copy of the will Boris and I worked out." He handed it to Merle. "You can read it. Megan's still gonna be helping once she calms down."
Merle looked at it, then stared at him in horror. "You're running things?"
"Until we can get him back, yeah," he said firmly, looking at the others. "This means there will be paychecks. Things will go on as normal. What I'm not sure of is if we should take a few days off in tribute. He can always come back as his son or something."
"How's Faith taking this?" Trisha asked.
"She's hormonal and pregnant," Xander said dryly. "She's a slayer, hormonal, and pregnant. Megan's going to warn the other fathers not to come over for a few days." That got some understanding nods. "So, the question becomes, do we take three days off in tribute? That would get us to Friday actually."
"We could do that, I don't think any of us are going to hit target this month," one guy offered.
"We're under and staying under," Trish said smugly. "Xander's like that."
"How?" one of the other guys demanded. "My guys are usually pretty good but they're slacking hard this summer."
"I'm pretty sure you'll find that we've been being sabotaged by the same people who just had their building destroyed the other day," Xander told them. "For some reason, Wolfram and Hart want this company. I don't know why, I don't care why, they're evil and sacrifice people for fun and games. If you doubt me, they've killed more good people than the army has. So we're all going to hunker down and weed out the bad influences. I know Boris found a few that were from a street gang who were hired to cause trouble. I know they've hired some ringers." He held up a few sheets of paper. "Look for your guys' names on here. This is who they've hired this year to cause trouble around the city." He handed it to the nearest manager. "I'm leaving it up to you guys. Do we pull a tribute time off the rest of this week?"
"I can't," one guy said, looking at him. "I'm four days from my deadline. I was about to ask for any extra workers."
Xander considered it. "Anyone else?" No one said anything. "Tell me now." Still no answer but a few headshakes. "Okay. Then we'll get anyone who's desperate over to you. You guys can do it next week." That man sighed. "Any of our crews who *need* and *have to* have the hours, send there." Everyone nodded at that. "Any other problems?"
"Megan's doing them, as usual," he promised. "Things should be back to normal in three weeks or so. If we can get our hands on the thing that'll bring him back sooner, it'll be sooner. We're keeping it around during the *whole* pregnancy as well," he finished dryly. "Any other issues?" One guy raised his hand. "Yeah?"
"How do we get in touch with you?"
Xander took a pen and wrote his number on the back of the lists, holding them up. "Take it down however. That's my home phone. If I'm not there, my husband can call me. If he's not there, there's always someone there." Everyone nodded. "At the site, I'm with Merle and Trisha this time. You can stop by or scream at them and they'll scream at me." Merle chuckled at that. "Guys, I'm a nice guy, I'm a fair guy. You get crap, you tell me. You need crap, you tell me. You need help, you tell me and I'll do my best. Whatever you need, I can probably handle. My husband might not see me for a few days," he admitted, giving them a sheepish grin, "but he's gotten used to that now and then when things go bad." The doors slammed open and he looked back. "One of the crew leads?"
"I'm Xander." He shook his hand. "Boris ran into a serious problem earlier." This guy was setting off his danger signals and he didn't know why.
"He's taking over until Boris can come back," Merle told him, backing Xander up. "Which site are you on?"
"The one on Allegro drive."
"We have one there?" Xander asked. "I thought we finally finished that one last month." The man gave him a long stare. "I started under Merle."
"So you're the guy who didn't call in one too many times?"
"Hey, we were being attacked. Boris understood that and I needed the vacation. One of my best friends just had her first child and I'm doing a lot of the childcare when they're too tired." The guy snorted. "Right now, I'm working with Merle and Trisha on their site."
"Oh. Heard that's a big complex."
"Fairly," Merle agreed. "So, we've got a list of people who a group trying to sabotage us have hired. We've got Xander's phone number, and we're done?" he asked the rest. Everyone nodded.
"How soon will Boris be back?"
"Hopefully about three weeks. Megan and I are working things until then," Xander told him.
"Because I'm good," Xander told him. "My crew runs under budget, under schedule, and has the highest ratings from inspectors. Boris and I worked this out a few weeks ago because he's becoming a father soon."
"I know what he is."
"Then you should know there's ways around that," Xander said dryly. "As Faith proves repeatedly. She's pregnant with about six kids at the moment, one of them his. Artificial insemination works wonders." He shrugged. "He wanted it, she stepped in to help him and a few people. Then she got him earlier and we're working on getting him back up and running."
"You can do that?"
"You know anything about Connor Angel?" The man went pale under his dark skin. "So do I," he said dryly. "Wolfram and Hart have been trying us all recently. Your name on that list by any chance?" The man glared and Xander stepped forward. "Let's get this straight. I'm from Sunnydale, honey." He grinned. "You were Initiative, right? I worked with Buffy." The man took three steps back, right into the doors. "We got it?" He nodded. "Good. Then we can work together as long as you're not on that list and not out to stop the company. I know there's got to be some who aren't on there, pet projects, personal friends, people who aren't on the list. If it's you, or anyone in this room, I'd stop soon. Like I told some cops, the last crew they had working on their building lost sixteen mysteriously, never found. In four days, they're sacrificing at least fifty people. They do it every year. We're still waiting on a confirmed spot." They got quiet so Xander looked at them. "We know they will. I'm working on stopping them. For the record, no I did not blow up their building but I was inside since they stole my personnel file. Me and Connor both." They all stared at him. "From LA, guys. Long story if you're not used to the strange crap in the world. So, we cool?" Everyone nodded. "Then dismissed unless you need me. Oh, hey, big guy. If you've got people who absolutely can't stay off work for the rest of this week, send it to him," he said, pointing at the one guy. "He's desperate."
"Fine," he agreed quietly. "What are you?"
"Xander Harris," he said with a fond smirk. "You guys had a file on me too." He opened the door, letting everyone out. "Go home, people, or go party or celebrate him however. Call me if you need me." They wandered off. He walked outside, going to his bike. He found a certain dark haired, balding detective against it. "Yeah?" he asked quietly.
"Nice guy, got fucked over by W&H himself. They made him come into being against his parents' wills." He looked at him. "The yearly sacrifice. Where are they holding it since their offices and the sacrificial chamber were destroyed?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Xander groaned. "No one told you. Okay. These guys sacrifice fifty to eighty guys a year to raise power. All at once. They've been gathering victims now all year. If those construction workers aren't dead already, it's pretty certain they will be in four days. Or if their hostages got away, expect a surge in missing persons locally. They won't have time to ship them in. There's not many places they can do that and taint that way easily. It's a short list. I'll gather up what I know tonight and have it delivered tomorrow with Dawn. She's a normal girl. It'll lead to less freaking." Vecchio nodded. "Right now, I'm in the middle of a small personal crisis so I'm going to go find somewhere and scream my head off."
"No heavy bag?"
"Yeah, but I figure my mate probably wants it." He grinned and got on his bike. "Off him please, Detective, before he gets a like for silk instead of leather and jeans."
The detective looked at him. "You like leather? You don't look like the type."
"You've obviously never seen my husband," he said happily, starting his bike and riding away.
"You'd be surprised," he said dryly, watching him leave. He felt an arm go around his shoulders and looked at the guy standing there. "Gonna defend him?"
"Xander? Yeah. He's worth it," Merle noted. "He's a good guy, one of the city's defenders. He's one of the reasons Limburger finally left the city alone. He's one of the good guys and he's trying to do what he does best, but the system is getting in his way. Trust me, there's a reason for everything he does, even if he sometimes has to make one up." He let him go. "Try to help him stop that sacrifice. The city's overcrowded, but not that much." He walked off to his car, getting in and going home to veg for the rest of the night and shudder in horror at the thought of Xander running *anything* this complicated. The man only cooked things one dish at a time, said doing everything at once was too complicated. He sent up many silent prayers to get that boy some help.
Willow looked up as something hit her in the head. "What? I know! Besides, I hate you Powers!" She stomped off, going to soothe Faith and work on reconstructing the sarcophagus that had reanimated Darla. "Don't we have any other magic around here?" she complained as she stomped on the astral plane.
Micah looked up from his desk as someone buzzed his phone. "No," he answered, then hung up again.
Someone rang him again. "What?" he asked impatiently. "Why would I care about reanimation devices, Wesley?" He listened. "So?" He dropped his pen and groaned. "Xander's taken over Boris' companies and now he's fighting Wolfram and Hart's yearly sacrifice? Why?" It was explained with a few small chuckles and he whimpered. "Sure, I'll ask around." He hung up and dialed his Pentagon liaison. "Do we have any reanimation devices lying around handy? Something that can fully bring a body back to life?" The answer made him groan and whimper, then shake his head and sigh. "I may need to borrow it sometime soon. Xander seems to have killed his boss, or had his boss killed by his pregnant slayer pet, and now needs to reanimate him. Oh, has to be a full body? You sure? Sure, let me know when you do. Thanks." He hung up and went to take drugs. He needed drugs. He really needed drugs. His phone rang and he picked up his secretary's extension. "Yeah?" he asked, sounding complacent. "Really? Would it work on one that was dusted? Sure, if you can. I'll bring his ashes here. Sure, give me a week?" He grinned. "Thanks. You may have just saved us a worse headache in the long run." He hung up and went to find his drugs. He wanted his drugs. Drugs were nice.
Max stopped her wandering to look at him. "What's wrong?"
"Xander's running Boris' companies. Drugs are nice," he said with a dopy grin.
"I think you need to go home. Let me call Lorne to come pick you up," she said, sitting him down in a nearby desk chair. "You stay there, Micah, give me a few minutes. If he can't, I'll drive you home."
"Okay. Can we stop and get me some blotter acid? It'll help."
"No, I can't do that. You can always order some of that in," she soothed, going to call Lorne very fast. "I think he's having a reaction," she hissed. "He just told me drugs are nice and he wants some blotter acid." She listened and looked at Micah. "What did Xander do? He wants to know."
"Boris got staked. Xander's running his stuff. They're going to bring him back."
Max looked at him, then at the phone. "Did you hear that?" she asked Lorne. "No, Boris got staked. Xander's running his stuff. They're going to bring him back." She nodded and hung up. "He'll be right here to take you home, Micah. I'll work on those figures for you." He hugged her, sniffling a bit. "It's okay. Go home, it'll all be okay in the morning. You won't have to help Xander run anything."
Micah nodded, wandering outside to get Lorne. He smiled when he saw him, getting into his car. Lorne handed over a few joints. "I'd need 'em too," he admitted, taking off.
Xander walked into the house, finding Throttle reading something in Martian, and went over to snuggle up to his side. "Can you teach me this?"
"Think it'll help with the stress?"
"No, but things should run pretty smoothly. We'll be announcing everyone has the week off but one crew in tribute. That one crew's four days from their deadline. Anyone who can't do the four days can go help them." He rubbed his cheek against the warm arm. "Help me?" he asked quietly.
"Of course. With the business or with something else?"
"Wolfram and Hart are due to sacrifice fifty to eight in four days time, but their sacrificial chamber is gone now. I don't know where they're holding people or where they'll pick."
"What's the reason?"
"Raising power, which means that it'll have to be a ritual. The ritual probably can't be inside the holding space, it'd cause too many problems, but it could be close by. It's got to be big to hold that many people. Even using vamps and magic to compel and keep contained, it won't help. They'd still fight if they could. So I'd make them separate, but I don't know how they're going to do it. I can't think that evilly."
"We'll figure it out," he soothed, stroking his arm and back. "We'll talk to Meg tomorrow, see if she or Oz can find something." He nodded, rubbing his cheek against the strong arm. "Need any more help?"
"I know. It'll be fine. You'll do wonderfully and it'll be fine, Xander. Like you said, things pretty well run themselves. We'll get through this and he'll come back and I'll get sex again." Xander grinned at him. "Feel better now?"
"Kinda," Xander agreed, looking a bit more confident. "Can we cuddle and you teach me how to read and speak Martian? I wanna learn."
"Sure." They both looked over as Dawn came up the stairs with Vic in her arms, cooing gently in his ear. She sat down and Vic wiggled, finally lunging down and crawling off. "I guess he's tired of being pampered and babied, he's a strong macho mouse," Throttle joked. "Vincent! Your son's wandering!" he shouted, knowing Vinnie would hear him. Dawn was just pouting. "It'll be fine. It wasn't you."
"I know," she sighed, looking at him. "But he's not so adorable when he's moving on his own."
"He's only four months old. How?" Xander asked.
"We develop a bit faster than you guys do," Throttle offered, kissing him on the head. "Hey, Vic, want a cuddle with the Uncle Xander?" Vic spit at him and continued to explore.
Vinnie came running up the ramp and stared at his son. "Oh, Gods," he whispered, falling to his knees. "You're crawling! Already! Now! Right now!"
"Ohmygod!" the baby shrieked, just like his favorite auntie. Vinnie's jaw dropped and he let out a small whimper, looking shocked and dazed. This was his son. His son! His son squealed like Dawn! He crawled to his daddy, beaming proudly at him. "Ohmygod!" He bounced a bit, tugging on his bandoliers.
"No more watching him, Dawn," Throttle said patiently. She spit at him and went to pick up the baby to nuzzle him. Vic wiggled and got down again, crawling off to the kitchen.
"Are you hungry? I know where mommy is," Vinnie offered with a grin. He wasn't sure if he should be proud, or cry at what his son's first words were. His son grinned at him so he picked him up and walked him back to their room, setting him on the bed after nudging her awake.
Charley watched as their son crawled up to her, and latched on through her shirt. "Hungry?" she asked sarcastically. "Since when did you crawl?"
"Son, say hi to mommy," Vinnie said happily. "She hasn't heard you speak."
Vic just grinned and went back to eating. He pulled his son off. "Ohmygod!" he shrieked, struggling to get back.
Charley undid her top for him, letting her poor, deluded son latch back on. "You poor boy," she soothed, stroking the back of his head. "Don't worry, your daddy and I will make you a normal mouse. You'll grow up like your daddy, only without his ego problems, and it'll be all okay. We'll teach you more words soon."
"Poof!" he said proudly.
"No, son, that's a Spike word," Vinnie said, shaking his head. "He's got to have some normal friends soon. He really, really does."
Charley nodded. "We'll let Primer and her twins come down shortly. That should solve most of it."
"Yeah, then he'll learn Martian swears," Vinnie said dryly. "We need normal friends." His son pulled off and burped. "Manners, son."
"Poof!" he said happily, diving back in. "Ohmygod," he murmured sleepily a few minutes later, snuggling into the mommy. She was very comfy. He felt daddy take him and let him cuddle too. He was a good cuddler. He just needed to be a bit softer in spots. He got one arm tangled in his daddy's bandoliers and they were taken off and put aside so the he could get comfortable. There, better. Victor snuggled in between daddy's breasts and fell asleep there.
Vinnie looked down at him. "Should I move him to his bed?"
"Just be careful. It's too hot for blankets and he can roll over already if he gets into trouble." She snuggled up against her son's back, knowing it would be a long road, but they could make their son normal. They had the capabilities and they could do it.
Vinnie sat his son in front of the computer, in his lap, letting his uncle see him. "Say hi, Vic," he offered.
"Poof!" he said happily.
"We just barely got Spike to quit using that one," he said dryly. "He doing anything else?"
"Crawling. Tell him the other word, son."
"Poof! Poof! Poof!" Spike's head popped up from his daddy's lap, giving him an odd look and an inquisitive growl. He looked at his father, then at the baby on the screen again, leaning forward to pat him. "Poofpoof!" Vic said, leaning forward to pat him back. Spike let out another inquisitive growl, this time a few notes higher, patting harder. "Ohmygod!"
Stoker fell out of his chair, and you could hear the laughing, but Spike had landed on the desk so he was staring at the baby like it was odder than anything he had ever seen.
"Don't feel bad, Spike, we feel the same way," Vinnie sighed, patting his son on the back. "My son needs normal friends."
Spike growled. "Mine!" he said, patting the screen. "Me! Mine! Mine!" he shouted.
Stoker's tail came up to grab his son, cuddling him on the floor. "Carbine, Vinnie's son just said his first words," he yelled. "You won't believe it!"
She walked into view, carefully stepping over him. "That good?"
"Poof! Bitch! Poof! Ohmygod!" Vic babbled, beaming at her.
"That's a third word you can't use, son," Vinnie said, shaking his head. "Not coached. Started last night," he said at the shocked look.
"Ohmygod! Poof!" he screamed. Throttle came to the doorway and he whimpered, patting the screen. "Poofpoof! Bitch!"
"That's a word you're not allowed to say, especially not to your Auntie Carbine," Throttle said firmly, coming in to save the poor kid. "Sorry, first words."
"So I can see," she said dryly. "Some day, I'll have one and pay you back, Vincent." She walked off, shaking her head. "Switch! Vinnie's son agrees with you!"
Stoker's head came up. "I'm so proud," he said quietly, but looking very smug. "I'll bring the kids down soon, man. Thank you, I needed that laugh." He hung up and went back to laughing. That was so bad of Vinnie's son! You couldn't teach kids to do that at his age either, it was natural. Carbine shrieked as Spike bit her again. Like his son biting his nightmare. He was so proud of his son!
Vinnie dialed Micah. Holding up his kid. "Crawling," he said proudly.
"On the other line with the president."
"Poof! Bitchpoof!" Vic shouted, wiggling to see him. He grinned and patted the screen. "Bitchpoof?"
"Yeah, him," Micah agreed, smiling at him.
"That's what I felt like this morning too, kid. Good job." He shook his head as he hung up, making sure he had saved that first. He wanted to show that to Lorne later. He went back to the president. "Sorry, sir, quick interruption from Chicago on a situation."
"First words?" the president asked dryly.
"Ya know, I meant to save that, not send it, sir," he said. "He's a democrat though, they all are."
"Is that why he thinks I'm an invisible female dog?"
"Um, sir, poof is a British slang term as well," Micah said. "And one of his acquaintances is a Brit. I'm sure he means it that way instead," he said, holding in his snickers. "I'm sorry, sir. I really did mean to save that instead of send it. It in no way encompasses my feelings on you or your policies."
"Hell, Micah, I know you hate me. I'm wondering why that kid does."
"Xander and Throttle are his favorite uncles, sir. They're still gay."
"Oh, teaching 'em young, huh?"
"No, he's got plenty of girls around him, sir. His daddy's pretty het, he'll be straight."
"That's good at least," he sighed. "Anyway, any luck on finding someone?"
"Someone to kick asses and arrest people? Yeah, I let Hendrix do that. To make lab assignments and things? I've found a temporary head to set up ethical constraints and all. One of the people in Cleveland had a former Physics professor who said he'd temp in until I could find someone permanent. It won't take more than his summer vacation for the most part."
"Good. That's good. He's ethical?"
"Yes, sir. He's kicked kids out of the program for ethical violations," he said firmly. "He's firm on those sort of things, sir."
"Good. I like that. I did some checking myself and what they did was horrible. After all, they haven't proven themselves to be against our way of life, and being born funny lookin' isn't a sin in my faith's book. You behave and make Max laugh too. She seems to need one now and then."
He hung up and Micah carefully forwarded the video down to Lorne's desk. About four minutes later he heard this deep, baritone cackle and stood up to looked own there. "I accidentally forwarded that to the president since he was on hold," he admitted.
Lorne cracked up, grabbing Max to laugh on, pointing at the screen. "President heard," he gasped, pointing again.
She reran the clip and giggled, hiding it with a file she was holding. "Oh, that poor set of parents. They'll never get him to stop squealing now." She got free and walked off, shaking her head and laughing. That was just so bad, especially if their president had heard it too. She wanted to know what he had said to dance out of that one.
Xander walked onto the site the next morning, looking at the gathered workers. He looked at Merle, who waved him on. "Guys," he said, drawing attention. "Something happened late last night. You know Faith?" A few nodded. "You know why the boss only comes out at night?" Most everyone nodded. "Well, Faith staked the boss." That got full gapes. "She's fine, we're dealing. For right now, I'm in charge of the company until we can get a proven heir in. For now, we're going to be taking the rest of this week off in respect." Everyone nodded at that. "If you absolutely can't do without the paycheck, there is a site which is four days from deadline and a bit behind. They've agreed to host you. We won't mind, and I think one of these two have the addy." Trish held it up. "I know you guys respected Boris as more than a paycheck giver and I agree with you. I liked the guy a lot or I wouldn't have put up with him leering at me now and then when he was drunk." Merle coughed. "He did!"
"He did," he agreed. "Not the time though."
"Point, sorry." He shrugged. "We all know I'm not the most hip and fashionably sound cookie in the pack. Sorry if I offended. For right now, either take the address if you want it, or come back Monday. If there was time, we'd have done this by conference call last night instead of calling you all in today." They all nodded. "Go, remember the man and how good he was to us all. I'm gonna try to keep it up."
One guy in the back raised his hand. "Why did she stake him?"
"Faith's like that," he admitted. "She's also pregnant and it was at hand apparently. She's carrying a kid for Boris and had an early hormone swing." Most of the guys shuddered at that. "So we'll figure it out and tell you guys when he gets here, hopefully within a few weeks. Megan's still doing paychecks and I'm just running the problems into the ground. Now, go, grieve or not, but be back on Monday." Everyone nodded, a few stopping by to get the address just in case. Everyone headed home, going to spread the news. Xander looked at Merle. "Sorry."
"Not a problem, he did it more than when he was drunk, trust me," he said dryly. "The boss was not discriminating." He patted him on the back. "Go home. All your paperwork was done and you'll be getting 'how do you want me to move now' calls soon."
"I hope not. You guys all seem so managing and able. I don't want to change that." He wandered off, going to get onto his bike and head for a short ride first. He needed a ride. In fact, he wanted to run away himself right now, but he knew he couldn't leave everyone hanging. This was a plan that wasn't quite working out right at the moment. Then again, no one had started to bother him either. He headed for home, riding up into the lounge area. Dawn gave him a hug. "Lots of calls?"
"No, one call. Wanting to make sure you didn't hang yourself last night. He said he was sorry for being in the Initiative and he wasn't the manager doing that, but he did know who it was. And one from one of the workers saying that this site they could temp at was nowhere near done and not able to be done in four days. Apparently they're *way* behind."
"I'll go look at them later," he promised, taking the papers. "Thanks, Dawnie."
"Welcome. Did you get to hear? He's learned a third word. He called Auntie Carbine a bitch."
He looked at the kid in the middle of the floor. "Yeah, I did the same thing, watch out for medals, kid." Throttle and Vinnie both cracked up at that. "So, anything else happen yet?"
"Not yet," Throttle admitted. "You okay?"
"So far." He got up and came over to get a hug. "Wanna go look at this site with me later?"
"Sure if you want." He gave him a gentle ear nuzzle. "It'll be okay. It'll only be a few weeks and we can manage it."
"I won't have a problem after the first week," he admitted. "That's when you get all the doubts and the 'come hold my hands' and all that stuff." Someone else called and he grabbed the phone, groaning when he heard the cheerful voice on the other side. "Sure, I can hold for the Pentagon. Why?" He waited for a few seconds. "Yes? Yes, I am. Why?" He listened. "I didn't know that. No, I'm good. I already have a security clearance, sir. General, I'm not sure you're rated high enough to know that I exist," he said dryly. "No, I'm in the omega range," he said proudly. "Why?" He smirked. "That's fine. You got someone there who works with Micah Simms? So do I actually, so don't worry about my rating and anything to do with the electronics company. Joanna does most of the day-to- day stuff there, I'm just going to be signing things. Sure, go ahead and ask him. He'll tell you I'm more than rated high enough to own a company that deals with you guys."
He hung up and got comfortable, then grabbed the phone with his tail and dialed Megan's house. "The electronics company does Pentagon stuff?" She snickered and told him what they did. "That's fine, I just insulted a general who talked down to me. I already have a security clearance, Megan. Honey, I'm in the omega range for clearances." He grinned. "Thanks, me too. No, I told him Joanna does everything with that, I just sign stuff." He listened. "Sure. From now on I will. Of course I can be charming and flattering, but I don't care too much about the Pentagon or his attitude. Yay, but I'll be nicer in the future. Sure. I promise. I won't ruin it for you and if they do pull the new satellite, let me know, I might know someone who could use a communications one. Thanks." He hung up and looked at his lover. "We're building a satellite for radio communications for the military. She said it'd go pretty cheap if they backed out."
"That'd be a great present," Throttle admitted. "Probably really expensive though."
"Not really. It's not a Mars Rover or anything. Satellites run from about six hundred thousand to a few mil to have made. I looked it up," he finished proudly.
"I'm amazed at your research skills," Throttle said dryly. "That's still really expensive."
"Yeah, but if you guys can't get the brain factory to work...." He looked up at him. "If they can do this, you could give them the raw materials and do that, maybe even trade for a few of the brains being made this year if Staff and everyone can't get 'em working."
"I'll suggest it to Staff. She's the one working on those ideas." He kissed him gently. "I still love you, even though you do have ideas."
"So you love me even though I'm smart?" he teased. Throttle nodded, cracking him up. "That's fine." He looked down at the tug to his leg. "Hey, Vic. Want a cuddle before I have to go look at a site?" He pulled the baby up, putting him in his lap. "There, how's that?"
"Poof!" He looked around. "POOOOOOFFFFF!"
"I think he wants his daddy," Xander admitted. "Vinnie?" Vinnie came out of the kitchen and his son clapped. "I think he was calling you."
"Maybe." He disappeared and came back a few seconds later after the microwave's beep, coming in to sit in front of them and feed his son his first cereal. "Does this look right?" Xander looked and nodded. "Good. It looks really thin to me."
"Like anyone who's only been on fluids, they have to start small," Xander reminded him.
"I hadn't thought about it that way." He dished out some and wiped off the spoon, holding it up. "You wanna try real food, son?" he asked with a grin. His son tipped his head to look at him, nearly falling over. Then he giggled madly. "Yeah, you're my boy," he said, pushing the spoon into his mouth. Then he retreated after a second and most of it was gone, and down the baby's chin. He wiped it off with the spoon. "Try it again, son." He did it again, and the baby swallowed some this time, staring in awe and he worked his mouth. "That's cereal. You'll like real food." He dished out some more and his son ate it like the good boy he pretended to be, earning a backrub from the uncles. He grinned at them and went back to eating, trying to grab the bowl to help himself. "Nope, I control it and the spoon, you can play with it after you're done."
"Only if you're cleaning it out of the carpet and everyone's fur," Xander said dryly. The baby flung some at him and he wiped it off. "Don't do that! I'm nice to you." He patted him on the back, helping him eat some more. "Good boy, Victor. Very good boy."
Rimfire came up the ramp yawning and looking around. "He's ready for solid foods? I wondered why Dawn was pouting."
"He's now mobile and starting to speak," Throttle said proudly.
"Ohmygod!" Vic said, clapping happily.
Rimfire looked at the baby mouse, then groaned and walked off. "I'm having horrible visions of the future," he muttered as he went to find breakfast.
"Poof poof!" Vic called.
"I'm right here, son," Vinnie said simply, making the baby laugh. "Glad you enjoy that thought." The baby burbled through some more cereal then Vinnie joined Rimfire in the kitchen. "He's learned a third one from somewhere. Bitch."
"Dawn's been walking around calling herself a stupid bitch now and then," he admitted. "I've gotten her to stop most of the time." He shrugged and made his own oatmeal. "What are we doing today?" he asked before taking a bite.
"You should probably call Micah and see if he's got anything for you, then make sure you've got everything for your first day of college." Rimfire nodded at that wisdom. "The rest of us, well, we're probably going to be helping Xander all week and next."
"Sure, and if you need me to, I can too." He shrugged and put down his empty bowl, heading to shower and get dressed for the day. Dawn was still sulking so he pulled her into the shower with him. It usually cheered her up a bit.
Micah looked up as the head of the IFU walked up to his office, shrugging at him and going back to his listening and nodding. "Sure, sir, I'm on that right away. Any idea what they think they are?" He smirked. "That's fine, sir, thank you." He hung up. "I get to send someone to a UFO convention to look for real aliens."
"They're in Colorado mostly," he said as he sat down, handing over a list. "I have never seen a bigger group of nazi-like thinking in my life," he admitted. "You were right to be concerned. I'm now more paranoid about those people than I am suspicious of you, Simms."
"Thanks," he said, looking over the list. "How many are left?" he asked in awe.
"Twelve. Only twelve, and that's because they're lab assistants." He shifted some. "Most of them were committed easily. Some weren't committed as easily. Some were just having fun torturing though and had to be arrested. A few were torturing humans and were handed over to the cops who had those cases. I thought it best and most quiet, after having a word with said officers about the NID and the fact that it was being reformatted and the new boss wouldn't put up with this crap. I now have three guys who have filed for counseling thanks to them." He stood up. "I wish you luck. I'll forward all our reports on the various centers and things once I have it. Oh, I had to go to Colorado to check out one that was working with that military group. I drug him off by his ears. He wanted to kill one of our allies for study."
"They let him live?"
"They couldn't figure out how to dump the body," he admitted. "So I drug him off too. He's safely committed talking about aliens and snakes and how they're going to take us all over if he doesn't find a disease that'll infect them and be a biological weapon they can send to other planets. The nurses think he's raving mad already." He smirked. "Any other dirty work?"
"Nah, not now. Thank you, Hendrix. I've got a new guy over the lab. Did you confiscate files?"
"Every and all, they're in boxes and I'll have them delivered later too." He nodded and left, going to pet his cat, get a drink, and have more nightmares. He paused once he got into his car. He was doing a lot of that recently. Maybe he should get rid of his cat? No, the cat was more soothing when he had the nightmares. Maybe he'd quit sleeping instead.
Xander walked onto that other guy's site and looked at the shell of the building, then at the guy running it. "It's screened, right?"
"No," he moaned. "Someone came and knocked down the walls last night."
"Well, I know you've got some help coming. Have you told the owners that you're this far behind because of what's been going on?"
"No, sir. I was hoping you or Boris would have."
"Uh-uh. That's a supervisor's job," Xander said firmly. "We had to call when one of ours fell in from that stupid gasline project, a few times." The other supervisor shuddered at that. He looked around. "So, give, where were you yesterday?" he asked, heading that way to look at the building. "Oh, husband, Throttle," he said, pointing behind him. Throttle nodded and followed, parking his bike next to the guard. He saw a few workers and nodded them over. "Okay, what do we think happened here? Your boss said someone came and destroyed part of the site last night?"
"They did?" one guy asked. "I've only been here a week, sir, and this is as far as we've gotten."
"Guys on break while we're here?" Throttle asked him.
"He told us we don't have permits to work," another guy said.
Xander looked back at the supervisor, who was pale and shaking. "Go wait in your office. Now." He shook his head. "Right now. Or else we're going to be playing 'debating stories' in front of the crew." He ran off, getting into his car and heading away. "Okay, looks like he quit. Any of you guys got crew lead experience?" No one raised a hand. "Shit." That got some chuckles. "Okay." He pulled out his phone, paging through until he came to a number, hitting the send button. "Mrs. Robison? It's Xander Harris, Chuck's former boss. No, well, I'd like to get him back as a crew lead on a temporary job if he's not busy. He is?" He groaned. "Okay. Um, yeah, actually, it kinda is. We had an obstruction called a supervisor recently. Sure. Thanks." He hung up and called another number. "Brad, my man, you're the man, I want you at that site pronto. You're crew lead, their former supervisor wasn't doing the job and he just ran off. Yeah, man, now. Please. Thanks." He hung up. "Okay, is this all your crew?" One guy shook his head. "Then I want you all here tomorrow. I'm going to call the owners. We're starting real work tomorrow."
"You're not Boris."
"I'm Boris's stand-in. I'm Xander. I started with Merle, worked with Trisha, now work with both of them. Brad's my second in command." That got some nods. "He's a good guy, works with you, you guys can help him, but go easy on him, it's his first full crewship. I'll be looking over his shoulder when needed." Everyone nodded at that. "What time is it?"
"Um, eleven, sir."
"Okay, I want as full of a crew here by one if possible. I don't care how, I don't care if you have to threaten, I want them here. If they're not here today, they had damn sure better be in tomorrow if they want a job. This is the only site we're running this week out of tribute to Boris and his former life." That got some stares. "Megan and I are still working together. Like I said, I'm his stand-in." That got some more nods. "You've got extra people coming from other sites. Yo, Carlos, did you take names?"
"Yes, sir, and numbers."
"Good, call 'em now. Tell 'em work's starting at one, after lunch. Half day today, full day tomorrow. When Brad gets here, I wanna see him pronto. The rest of the crew gets called in and called back. I'm calling the owners."
"They live across the street, sir, and I can go get them."
"Please." The guard jogged off and Xander looked up at the building. "This is so very wrong." He walked over when the middle aged couple started through the parking lot. "I'm so sorry. Boris just died last night. I'm his heir, I'm naming my second over this site. It's going to be done. That last guy, he just quit."
"Good, it's already not right."
"Hey, let's go find the plans, go over it, and when Brad gets here, I'll go over ...." He grinned as Brad pulled up. "That's Brad." He waved him over. "The owners say the last guy wasn't getting it right at all beyond not doing anything."
"Oh, my fucking God," he growled, looking at the site.
"He tried to tell Xander that someone stole walls," Throttle told him.
"I so wanna kick his ass," he said through gritted teeth.
"Stand in line," Xander said with a grin. "I'll watch you however you need and I'll be there to help you fill out paperwork, this is your site now. Everyone who can be will be in at one and if they can't be, they'd better be here tomorrow. You're getting all the guys who volunteered as well."
"Good! Let's go look at the plans." He grinned at the couple. "I'm his second on an interior crew. He's done a lot of my training. Depending on the size, it won't take long." He walked them off, going to look over the plans with them, letting Xander watch. He was going to run this site and do it well. So well he'd get to keep his own crew. Or maybe get to split off half of Xander's at the new site. He'd like that. He waved the guys over, finding the plans and bringing them to the table. "Okay, ma'am, sir, what's wrong so far?" he asked, letting the guys hold the edges for him. He looked from the plans to the building. "Is it even supposed to be facing sideways?" They shook their heads and everyone groaned. "Okay." He reoriented the plans. "It should look like that, right?" They both nodded. He looked at it, then at the building. "Guys, it looks like we're uncreating, then creating again. Don't waste materials, don't do sloppy work, and we'll get along fine."
"Hey, it's not bricks," Xander joked. The male of the couple looked at him. "Due to that gasline project, we had to move a wing of a new medical building thirty feet after it was mostly constructed. Brad started on that one actually."
"Was that the one that sunk into a sinkhole, nearly whole?" the wife asked. Xander nodded. "Well, it looked well constructed."
"It was," Brad agreed with a grin for her. "I'm an ace at framing. They wanted to just make me do that. Do we have all the materials ordered?" She nodded. "Down to cabinets and everything?"
"Yes, sir, they do, they're in our shed actually."
"Good. We'll start the deconstruction this afternoon, hopefully starting the framing by then as well. Quite a lot of that is stud walls and we can deconnect them and move them whole if I'm right." That got some smiles. "It won't take as long. Men, Xander?"
"You're a priority site, Brad. This isn't fair to them."
"Our original deadline was last month," the woman said. "He promised us within four days."
Brad looked at the building, then at the crew. "I can't do it that fast. I'm hoping for two weeks, and if I have a full, working crew I think I can do that."
"I'd say three to be safe," Xander admitted. "Inspectors and things ya know."
"Oh, I do," Brad said dryly. "Speaking of, Henderson wanted a call about his. His broke his leg, again."
"Again? Man! We've got to get that guy a wheelchair. One of the city's electrical inspectors," he offered. "Keeps tripping over little things, like his car." The couple laughed at that. "Brad, I'm leaving this in your hands. I'll want a progress report each night. Got it?" He nodded. "Good, and I'll pop around most nights to get it personally."
Brad grinned. "Thanks, Xander. Can I have a raise too?"
"You're a crew chief on this job, for however long it lasts, Brad, of course you're getting a raise for this job." He beamed and got a hug, then went to walk the people through to make sure he understood where everything was going. Xander looked at the guys. "You shouldn't have a problem with Brad, he's a good guy."
"His first one, he'll be a bit eager," one of the guys admitted. "Maybe a bit harsh. We'll deal and he'll calm down. If it gets too bad, we'll come see you."
"Sure. Carlos knows how to reach me, he worked on my site last week." They nodded. "Start at one, work your asses off. Do you guys get a lunch truck?" They all shook their heads. "I'll get one for the rest of this week, three dollar credit and all." He went to call his site's guy, getting him. "Hey, has the truck shown up yet?" He grinned, getting that phone handed over. "I know he told you, I'm figuring you're making him lunch? No, there's a site that just got put on highest priority. The one on Absholm. We'll do the usual three dollar credit and they're restarting today. So if you can come down here, we'd be really appreciative. And hey, next week, we'll figure it out." He grinned. "Thanks, love. You're a great woman." He hung up. "Lunch truck'll start coming today. You'll have her for the rest of the week and we'll try to get one of the other ones to at least cruise by at lunch." That got some nods and they went to go help. He walked back to the guard's position. "Lunch truck's coming. Feed the guys. Crew starts at one. Brad's now in charge. I'll be around. If that last guy comes near the parking lot, I want him arrested for fraud if possible. Anything he's left in the trailer, Brad can box up this afternoon. He's fired, he's never working for us again, and if you see him, I wanna know."
"Yes, sir. You know he was Joanna's brother, right?"
"Do I care?" He shook his head. "Good." He grinned. "Probably be about three weeks. Brad's a lot like me." He called Joanna. "If you see that brother of yours, eat him. He tried to lie and say the job he formerly had had walls stolen instead of him just not working. No, he's over the deadline by over a month, Joanna. So come down to the Absholm site tonight. He built it sideways!" He grinned. "Seriously! Built it sideways. Oriented the building wrong. It's a house. It was due to be done last month, he's barely got all the stud walls in place. I faced him down about it and he ran. I take it he quit before I could kill him. So if you see him, please eat him for me, 'kay?" He grinned. "Sure. Any crap from the Pentagon?" He listened. "Decent," he breathed, grinning madly. "I know they hate me. I don't care that they hate me, but I know they do. That's why I told him I only sign things and you run things. So you can deal with him if you want." He snickered. "No, Throttle's here with me. He growled at the guy too. We're heading home. Tell Megan this is the new priority job outside of that one that burned. Put them on as equal and mandatory. Everyone reappears today around one or tomorrow morning or they're fired. Sure. Lotsa fun. Hey, if they're on legitimate vacation time, then they're officially still here. That's fine with me. Sure. Have fun." He hung up and looked at his mate. "I need drugs. I have a headache."
"Me too. Let's swing by the house to do that." Xander nodded, heading for his bike. Throttle waved at the guard. "We're going home if there's a problem."
"Yes, sir," he said, saluting him.
"Don't do that, I'm not military," Throttle complained as he walked over, getting on the front of his bike to drive. "Home."
"Vinnie said he's picking up lunch. Vic just snuggled up to Chef Andy like he was God, mostly because daddy smells like his stuff."
Throttle laughed at that. "Victor's going to be a lot of fun in a few months." He took off, heading for home. "Are they going to have to pay more?"
"I'll get with Megan tonight to see about that."
"You're good," Throttle assured him. "Love you."
"Ditto," Xander said, giving him a squeeze.
Vampire Willow knocked on the door to the garage, smiling at the woman who answered. "Hi, Megan sent me over with stuff for your Xander. Is he here?"
"He's at the lair, next door. Give me a minute and I'll lead you over if you want. Come in and wait?"
"Sure." She walked in and looked around the open space. "This is really nice."
"Thanks. My dad built it." She went into the office, coming out with a few pieces of mail, which went into the mailbox. "All done. Let's go through the kitchen so I can set the alarm." They walked that way and she set the alarm just before shutting the door, leading her through the garage door since someone was in there. "Hey," she said, looking at the guys in the hottub. "I can't believe you put that in out here."
"I couldn't find another spot for it unless I wanted it on the roof," Xander complained. "What's up, Willow?"
"Oooh, what a cute little baby," Willow cooed, smiling down at Victor. She felt everyone stare at her. "Um, oh, ah, nice baby, pretty baby, be good to eat, yeah, good snack," she corrected hastily.
"We knew you're a Willow already," Xander said dryly, holding a hand out. She handed over the envelope. "That seems to be everyone's opnion about Victor. Even the cops." He read over the form. "Good, the company can eat the costs on that house since it was our fault," he said, looking at Throttle, and Modo, who had went to volunteer for the day. "She found another one so far behind schedule it's not funny but that one has a reasonable reason, his neck broke two weeks back and he's still in the hospital. She named one of his guys crew lead and he's hopeless. So we'll have to pop around on him and use the pointy stick of encouragement on him Monday morning before I hit my site." He folded it up and tossed it on his car's hood since it was parked nearby. "So, what else is up?" he asked.
"Wolfram and Hart's sarcophagus was broken, but the other me thinks it can be reconstructed. I'm really powerful," she said in awe.
"Yeah, and you really tried to destroy the world once too," Xander said dryly. "Out of love's loss."
"Eww. I'm sorry."
"So was she. You okay?"
"No!" She stomped a foot. "No one'll play with me!"
"Not in Chicago," Xander agreed. "Connor might take you home if you agree to help him by playing with the bad guys."
"I hadn't thought of that. Is he here?"
"Doing Tai Chi on the roof."
"Thanks!" She scurried up the nearest ramp, heading up there to pounce him. He seemed like he'd be fun to play with too. Besides, Xander was catching this mellow mood and it was *boring*!
Xander looked at the others. "I like solving problems."
"Good, then solve his for calling me a poof," Vinnie said, pouting at his son. "Can't you *try* daddy?"
"Not quite, son. Try it again. Daaaaaddddyyyy."
"No, not poof, daddy."
Modo laughed. "It is cute."
"It's not cute, I'm not a poof," he defended, kicking his leg in the water. "Meany." He looked at his son again. "Daddy."
"Closer," he admitted, kissing him on the forehead. Then he handed him to mom, who had a bottle.
Xander cracked up. "He does kinda sound like a miniature Dawn, or Dawn and Spike's kid," he chuckled.
"Spike gave him this odd look and an inquisitive growl," Vinnie admitted, "then he pounded on the screen and demanded to have him."
"Spike is a little creature some days," Dawn agreed. She grinned at Xander. "Can I take your bike out for a spin later? Just to see if it's any different than Rimfire's ride?"
"If he'll allow it," he said tolerantly. "You wanna take her for a spin later, big guy?" His bike beeped and Rimfire's growled so it beeped at him and nudged him. Rimfire's bike settled down. "Thanks. Sure, Dawn, he said it's fine."
"Thank you. We can play chase," she said happily, grinning at Rimfire. Who leered back.
"No sex in the park," Modo said firmly.
"Of course not," Dawn sighed, getting out of the hot tub, her bikini showing off her body very well. "Let me change."
Rimfire watched her walk off. "Why? I like her in that."
"She'll get a ticket riding in it," Xander said dryly. "No, Rimfire. No bikinis on my bike."
"Yes, sir," he sighed, going to put on dry pants or shorts for his own ride. His girl didn't need to be wet either.
Xander sighed and sunk down a bit further in the water. "I needed this."
"You did," Throttle agreed, giving him a hug. "Want to start on your Martian lessons tonight?" Xander grinned and nodded. "That's fine. We'll start later with food words."
"I had lunch." Throttle whispered in his ear, making him shiver. "Is that a menu or a promise?"
"Menu," he said with a fond grin. "Promises are for later." Xander got out and headed upstairs to try to figure out what he said in relation to what they had in the fridge and freezer. Throttle came up and pulled out each item, handing it over as he repeated the name. For some reason cheese still sounded the same but rootbeer sounded exotic and erotic when he said it.
Dawn came back shaky and overly warm, going over to bug Charley for a minute. "Um, Xander's bike has got a really strong vibration," she told her quietly. "I'm not sure if that's normal or not."
"I'll check o him," she promised. Dawn nodded and went to pounce Rimfire.
"Oooh, ready for me?"
"Four times over already; now, bed, right now," she demanded, dragging him off.
Charley snickered, going out to ride his bike around the block and make sure it was healthy. "Dawn said you've got a bad vibration going. Can I take you around the block?" The bike revved, letting her on, and she did drive it around the block, coming back to pounce Vinnie. "We knew Xander was a lover but his bike's got one strong vibration," she said as she pulled him against her, kissing him hard. "Just in the right spot."
"Xander said he is his alter ego," he agreed, picking her up and carrying her up the stairs. Vic couldn't get into much in the living room and he was sure someone would come over to check on them within minutes. Or their son would follow them. He could hear him padding along behind them. He laid her on the bed and got her out of her clothes, diving in to clean up the wetness she already had. She should only be that way from his tongue and fingers, not from Xander's bike.
Xander came into the garage to check on his bike, grinning at him. "Did it to the girls too?" The bike beeped happily. "No, I'm sure they don't mind it once in a while." He wiped down his bike's seat and went back to his Martian lessons. Throttle was having him repeat the names of what he was doing to him over and over, making him beg for it. It was a great way to learn a new language!
To Part 48